The T-shirts sported by the audience at the Middle East last night read like the crash course in Rock Music that your older, cooler brother gives you when you're fourteen: Melvins, Misfits, G.G. Allin, Motorhead, Venom, uh . . . The Cosby Show. Okay, well, metal is rapidly becoming assimilated by popular indie culture, so it wasn't surprising to see some of the tight-pants, silly-T-shirt set in attendance. But make no mistake: no one was at this show to be seen. This was metal and metal is about music . . . and, judging by the absolute spectacle at the tables in the back, metal is also about merchandising. Anyone want to throw down and buy us a hoodie?
Seattle's very own Big Business hit the stage while the room was still only half-full, which is a crying shame because the band KILLED. Jared Warren's bass guitar tone was so flat it sounded as if he was like he was welding a detuned vacuum cleaner that was sucking the sound out of the air. This, combined with the endless solo that drummer Coady Wills seemed to play, gave the band a strong, yet odd dynamic that was maybe not entirely appreciated by the crowd.
The Bronx, who are from L.A., stole the stage banter award by managing to make both the dumbest and the smartest comments of the evening. The Dumbest: band's singer announcing that the lily-white Bronx are, in fact, "four Rock-and-Roll-niggers." The Smartest: "I want to say thanks to High on Fire for asking us on this tour and making sure that this show was not High on Fire and High on Fire Jr. and High on Fire Jr. It's like one big taco salad up here."
Before High on Fire could take the stage, the guy in the plaid shirt grabbed the mic and started making a speech about how he met his girlfriend at a Thrones show (Thrones is current High on Fire bassist Joe Preston's solo moniker) and how she was the most important and wonderful person in the world and how she needed to get up on stage so he could ask her something . . . at which point the 1/9th of the crowd that was female let out the world's-loudest "AWWWWWW" before being stifled by some surly love-haters in the front row. But, alas, love goes on and she said "yes." And, really, it was cute. Maybe Joe Preston will marry them? "I'm sure you've all had your fill of love for the evening," High on Fire singer/guitarist Matt Pike announced as the band tore-ass into their first song. And what's to be said about one of the best live metal bands in the world? The band was undeniably a hot piece of shirt-less stoner-metal. Most impressive was the low-end racket, held-down by Preston and drummer Des Kensel. Here was the link between the Motorhead stomp of High on Fire and monolithic chug of Pike's former band Sleep. If I had a bong, it would have been thoroughly rattled.
WATCH: High on Fire, "Devilution" (.wmv)
-- Eli A.